Wednesday, July 5, 2017

In the beginning...

How's your summer going so far?  I'm having a hard time believing it's already July!  I feel like I crammed a lot of activity into the month of June and there's still a lot more to be crammed in before school starts. 

Recently we returned home from a trip to a house that smelled like skunk and a car that wouldn't start.  One of our dachshunds, Cordie, was sprayed just before we left for our road trip--as in at 5am, 30 minutes before our car was to hit the road.  We cleaned her and the house the best we could before we left.  God bless our dog sitter because I don't know what you know about skunk smell but it does not go down without a fight.  We're now two weeks out from the incident and I still catch faint whiffs of it throughout the house.


So there was that.  And then the car that wouldn't start and the cracked windshield on another vehicle that had to be replaced and a bunch of home projects I'm trying to catch up on and finish plus jobs and July 4 holidays and birthdays to plan, etc., etc., etc.  It's not that I'm complaining about all of this--these are the busy things that make up life right now and they each have their place, challenges or not.  (Well, maybe the skunk.  I'm definitely complaining about the skunk.)  I believe God meets us where we are.  I believe He's as much a part of the laundry in my house as He is worship on Sunday morning. 

But darned if I've not completely lost sight of that.

Do you ever have those moments, when you feel so very far away from God and so very close to chaos?  Sometimes I write the word "peace" on my hand when I'm feeling like I need a little extra help remembering it.  I did that the other day.  Then I mopped and wiped up skunk smell for 10 hours and it got washed off. 
 
So this morning I tried a different approach.  I began at the beginning. 

I took my Bible outside and read Genesis 1.  In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.  The earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep.  And in that darkness, over that formless, deep, empty space the Spirit of God hovered, and His voice spoke, and light appeared. 

Can you imagine that?  God's voice?  In the dark, in the deep, in the emptiness comes the spirit of something so powerful that the only response to such an instrument is creation??

The light is separated from darkness creating day and night.  The heavens make way from the waters and the waters make way for land.  The seas and skies and earth are filled with creatures and plants and trees.  The sun and moon and stars are set upon the heavens so that seasons may come and time set in motion.  And man.  Created in His image, set apart and above, male and female, to multiply and govern and tend. 

Back to the beginning.  To the assurance that I am His.  That this world around me, the wind moving through the trees, the heat radiating off the ground, the day that turns to night and back into morning...it belongs to Him.  At the beginning of each day there will always be this, and always this when I lay my head down to rest at night. 

So that's my challenge to you.  In case you're having one of those days/weeks/months/years :) ...take your Bible outside and start at the beginning.  Where all that's required is God's voice and the rest just falls into place.

XOXO...Kelly


Thursday, June 1, 2017

All the Details

So it's been summer vacation now for seven days.  Seven days...and I've already begun to forget what silence is like.  I catch fleeting glimpses of it every now and then, like when I'm using the restroom.  But then someone knocks on the door to ask me for some Doritos and it's gone again.

When you have four children, the question-asking can get a little out of control.  In any given circumstance there's the potential for four times the amount of questions.  And NO ONE listens when someone else asks a question, so it's very likely I'll get the same question at least twice. 

For example, we are currently in the middle of the summer swim team season, which involves three different practices spread across two and a half hours and two different pools.  What I'd really love to do is just tell the boys when to be ready, have them actually be ready to go at that time, and drive them to practice in perfect obedience.  What actually happens is seven reminders to get ready, two trips back inside for forgotten goggles and someone getting grounded from video games for the rest of the day.  And then when we finally do get into the car it's, "What time does my practice start? How many minutes is it today? Why doesn't so-and-so have to practice as long? Do we have to go tomorrow, too? What time will you pick me up? Can I play at the playground afterwards? Are we going the right way??" 

Oh for the love of all Doritos....why don't they just do what I say and trust me??!!! 

As I drove to swim practice this morning I heard the Lord whisper to me, Ditto

For it is the truth that I badger Him the same way.  I am happy to follow in the direction He's sent me, but not without a full rundown of all the details first. 

"For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways.
As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.
As the rain and snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth,
Making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater, so is my word that goes out from my mouth:
It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it."
Isaiah 55:8-11

Ditto, indeed. 

I do not drive my children aimlessly to swim practice, but with a plan and a purpose.  My God treats me no differently.  I long for the same trust of my children that God longs for from me.  My boys don't realize yet what a gift that kind of trust is, but surely I do.  Surely I can accept it, live into it and through it.

They'll figure it out some day, my kids.  They'll be sitting in the restroom somewhere when a tiny hand knocks on the door and asks them for a snack.  And then they'll know.  And maybe it will occur to them to call and thank me that day, knowing then what it's like to raise kids into trust and faith.  It's my hope for them, after all.  That they might know the same sort of blessings one day that they give to me, however loud and difficult they might be along the way. 

I'll think of them, of course, but I might not be available to take the call.  Because, Lord willing, Kevin and I will be on a beach somewhere, enjoying the silence.  With a big bag of Doritos.

XOXO.....Kelly



Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Sweet

Last week marked the end of our family's 9 year career in preschool.  Michael started in 2008, going one day a week for four hours.  I remember the morning before school his first day feeling so aware that we were entering a new era, where I would not be privy to every moment of my child's day, not overhear every conversation, be aware of every emotion and nuance.  I worked at the church where he attended preschool at that time and spent a good portion of the day peeking in at him, marveling that his life was going on just fine without me right there. 

The fact is I could not have made that transition into school life without the teachers and faculty taking care of my son.  Their capable hands, overwhelming patience and steady commitment to Michael at such a young age was not just a thing that made it easier.  It was THE thing.  And last week, as I walked Parker to the car on his final day, I felt overwhelmed with appreciation of their care. 

It's the end of an era for sure, and I've heard many describe such a milestone as bittersweet.  But for me it's just sweet. 

Sweet because my kids have enjoyed their time in preschool and loved their teachers.

Sweet because each person there who guided my children was, and will continue to be, a gift from God. 

Sweet because they are better people for their time spent there. 

And sweet because I know new adventures lie ahead.  They may not always be grand, good or easy adventures, but look at the foundation they've been given.

How can there possibly be room for bitter in all this??

Praise, Father, I have nothing but praise today.  For the people you've put in my babies' paths.  For the ways you've provided for them and the ways I know you always will.  Thank you for this piece of the greater puzzle.  In Your Name.....Amen.

XOXO....Kelly

Then (Michael's first day)...
....and now (Parker's last).  ❤


Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Cupcakes.

It was around this time last year that I was in the middle of one of the stupidest disagreements of perhaps my entire life.  Over cupcakes.  Yes.  Cupcakes.  And whether their presence was really all that necessary at the last day of school party at our elementary school.  I won't hash out the details for you here except to say that I don't care about cupcakes, and I really don't care about them on the last day of school when all I want to do is take my kids home and start summer. 

Since then a whole slew of other things have popped up that I don't have much patience for either.  Like Leprechaun Traps....decorated shoe boxes left out on St. Patrick's Day.  Y'all...what the heck???  Have you not seen what happened with the Elf on the Shelf??  Have we learned nothing?!  Next there will be bait and treasure left behind (that's not free, you know....you're going have to buy that crap....) and a lively little stuffed doll wearing all green.  You'll have to have a naming ceremony and find creative ways to dye things green all over your house.  You know what doesn't require that much work?  Wearing green on March 17.  Most of us aren't even Irish!!  Think this one through, people.  Think this one through.

Also letters to the Easter Bunny.  The Easter Bunny does not grant wishes.  He fills eggs with candy, maybe leaves one other present as long as it fits in the basket.  Easter is about Jesus.  It's enough of a stretch already that we have a large adult-sized bunny leaving treats on Sunday morning.  Let's not even call it a stretch.  Let's just call it silly.  What's next?  The Easter Bunny saddles up a team of magical flying chicks and hops aboard his carrot wagon?  They stop at the tomb first--to thank Jesus for the chocolate--and then off to fill Easter baskets!! My point is, you and I both know our budgets can't handle two Christmases, so simmer down and put those lists away.

My opinions aside, the fact that you like cupcakes or not--or any of these other things--doesn't make you a good or bad person.  When I reflect back on that disagreement a year ago I am confident no child was affected by the decision because in the end a cupcake is eaten and then it is gone.  A leprechaun box will fall apart.  A letter will fade.  But was Jesus there??  In my heart or anyone else's?  Was I able to see how insignificant the decision really was and treat the person on the other side of the argument with love, mercy and grace?  Or did I let a cupcake stand in the way of God's will?  I think I know the answer...

If I speak with the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love I am only a resounding gong or clanging symbol.  1 Corinthians 13:1

Such noise we allow in!  The things that do not matter that we make matter, the lines we draw between one another just because we want to feel right.  It's everywhere, and it is not Christ.  It's not the will the of God or the goodness He has promised us in His name.  These details will not save us in the end nor do they bring anyone else any closer to knowing Him. 

It's May now, and that means a lot is going on, especially if you have kids in school.  May there be Jesus in your busy-ness.  Amidst the bustle of all that needs to be done may there be the silence of God's peace.

XOXO....Kelly

 

Monday, March 20, 2017

When your 9 year olds be trippin'....

It all started around September as my oldest began to settle into being 9 (if you've ever had a 9 year old you know what I mean) and sort of came to a head this morning when my youngest announced that he no longer needs a stool to reach the light switches.  I sat in the kitchen and cried. 

Just when you think you've mastered one phase, you enter another. 

Jesus and I had a heart to heart this morning about the challenges of parenting and letting go, and I felt compelled to share these words He put on my heart with you. 

You know, just in case 9 is tripping you up a little as well..... 

XOXO...Kelly


Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name.
   Holy Father, you sit as the ultimate parent over all of us.

Thy Kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.
   Help me to do Your will in my role as a parent, to guide my children toward You.

Give us this day our daily bread...
   Work through me, that my children would have what You know they need today, not what the world thinks they need. 

And forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.
   Forgive me for the ways I have fallen short.  Help me to show grace when my kids aren't perfect either.

And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.
   Keep me true to your path, not tempted to take an easy way out--short of temper and prone to   anger--but resting in the goodness of your promises and grace.

For thine is the Kingdom and the power and the glory forever.
   For these lives you have entrusted to my care are Yours and Your alone, God.  Help me to raise them to Your will and to Your glory, putting my trust in you and enduring the difficult seasons as you endure them with me. 

Amen.



Tuesday, February 28, 2017

When your husband has no love language...

I missed a mention of Valentine's Day (or rather I was too busy shoving my face full of chocolate to be inspirational about it), but since it was not so long ago and Lent is just around the corner.....please allow me to talk about love for a moment or two.

(How do Lent and Valentine's at all relate to one another, you ask?? How do they not!!  I'll explain.) 

Prompted by a group I'm involved in at church, I recently took the 5 Love Languages quiz.  The 5 Love Languages, authored by Gary Chapman, is a personal assessment that helps you understand by what manner you feel most loved--gifts, time, acts of service, words of affirmation or physical touch.  The idea is that by understanding what moves you as an individual, you and your partner can better understand each other and respond to one another in more loving ways.  Kevin was absent the night we took the quiz, so I asked him to just guess which one he thought he was most inline with.

"Sound logic and indisputable facts" was his reply.

Right. 

You're starting to feel a little sorry for me, aren't you?? 

We have long-joked in our family that Kevin, like the tin man, was born without a heart.  This is, of course, a huge exaggeration and my husband is one of the most amazing people I know (I write all of this with his permission!!) and he is far better at loving me than I am at him some days.  Because, as fate would have it, this man of logic and reason is closer to the truth of love than many people I know!  That is, love does not feel and then act.  Love simply acts.

"And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them. This is how love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment: In this world we are like Jesus. There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love. We love because he first loved us." 1 John 4:13-19

We waste a lot of time waiting to be in the mood to do things.  Like signing up to help at school or deliver a meal to someone recovering.  Or extending grace and forgiveness.  Or apologizing.  Love does not require a mood of us at all.  Love is in action word!  And when it is aligned with the will of God and the grace of Christ, the pressure of our own worthiness--or anyone else's for that matter--is taken off and we can simply move in it.

After all, what sacrifice could you possibly make that Christ has not made for you already??

(See, Lent.  I told you.)

My love language is words of affirmation, by the way.  I like a nice note every once in a while.  Kevin's not super great at flowery words, but then again, I'm not great at sound logic and indisputable facts.  May God have mercy on both of us!! 



XOXO....Kelly




Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Nothing cuter than a mouse...

This summer we welcomed two sweet, adorable mice into our family....Daisy and Twinkle.  Twinkle took to life in our home right away and thrived in only the way a mouse can thrive.  Daisy on the other hand stayed quite small and from time to time we noticed marks on her face and ears.  Just after Thanksgiving we made the difficult decision to separate the two mice for fear that the marks on Daisy were caused by Twinkle.

(Yes, I'm still talking about mice.  I use the word "difficult" lightly.)

After two days of separation the marks became worse.  Clearly there was no mouse abuse going on here so I turned to Google.  After several minutes (it seemed like hours) of intensive research we determined that Daisy must have a food allergy.  It was recommended we cut out wheat products from her diet.  Daisy, it seems, is gluten free.

(Yes, I'm still talking about mice.)

I also learned that once a mouse starts scratching a spot they can develop almost compulsive behavior and continue to scratch, making the area worse.  It was recommended we rub some hydrocortisone cream onto Daisy's skin and provide her with some therapeutic chewing options, so as to displace the compulsive behavior elsewhere.

(Yes, I'm still talking about mice.)

At some point while I was gently massaging hydrocortisone cream onto Daisy's ears--careful to avoid her mouth, of course, because ingesting it could be deadly--Zachary suggested we take her to the vet.  I looked down at the tiny mouse in my hands and around the room at the Legos, video games and nerf guns strewn about.  I looked at the laundry baskets full of laundry and the bathroom with surfaces to clean.  I looked at my sweet son's face, into his precious green eyes and said, "Zachary....this mouse cost $3.98.  We're not taking it to the vet."

We all have those moments in life, when in the throws of triumph or failure, we are forced to take inventory and readjust our perspective.  The message at church this weekend was taken from Philippians 4

"10 I rejoiced greatly in the Lord that at last you renewed your concern for me. Indeed, you were concerned, but you had no opportunity to show it. 11 I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. 12 I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. 13 I can do all this through him who gives me strength."

Whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.  Our desires may change.  Our needs may vary.  The solution never does.  We can learn to be content whatever the circumstances.  We can shift our perspective.  We can trust Christ for our strength.

Now does this take some effort?  Oh most certainly it does.  Our lives don't change because we get up one day and tell them to.  But little by little and faithful bit by bit we retrain ourselves to look upward.  We learn to let go of our own ways a bit more and seek His first.  And He patiently, like a mother putting cortisone cream on her son's pet mouse, waits for us to come around.  Because, after all, we can do all things....

We expect Daisy will make a full recovery.  The upside to this time of trial is that now we own two mouse cages.  We connected them with a tunnel and it's like a mouse mansion.  A gluten-free, therapy mansion complete with wheels for running and sticks for chewing.  Living in plenty, I'd say.  Wouldn't you??

XOXO....Kelly